Trapped

I got online this evening to blog about the new diet that I’m going to try, only to realize that all I’ve ever posted was (insert new diet here) day 1. Ugh. I wish that surprised me, but it doesn’t. I’m a horrible dieter. In fact, the only area of success I’ve ever had was in gaining weight- which is pretty counter-productive at this point. I’m topping the scale higher than I’ve ever been (pregnancy included) and I’ve gotten to the point where my failures greet me every morning in the form of back fat, trouble standing, and low energy. There are so many diets that help you lose weight that it can just be confusing. One low-fat, one high-fat/low-starch. Glycemic-Index, Paleo, Atkins, Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, etc. My head is swimming from the blur of dieting and all their insisting that theirs is THE way. I’m so tired of their ways. I’m so stuck in the rut of promising to diet and then not dieting. I’ve made lists and goal sheets, I’ve planned meals and read recipes, I’ve even had my sister clean out my kitchen from all “forbidden foods.”

Many days, I entertain the idea of weight-loss surgery, except that I know it wouldn’t work. I’d get into the office and the doctor would say, “okay, prove you can stick to a diet: lose 10 pounds.” I’ll walk out of that office determined to do the right thing and I will end up losing nothing. What’s the missing link? Am I just trapped in this unhealthy cycle forever, like Sleeping Beauty having already pricked her finger or Snow White after the apple or Rapunzel in her tower- incapable of actually getting out, getting free? Am I waiting (unconscious) for Prince Charming to show up? That my diets have all failed because they weren’t the right prince. It wasn’t true love? I love these fairy tales, I’m not really one of those people who blames fairy tales for all of women’s woes today (quite the reverse, I assure you). Perhaps it is the mystical and mysterious depression that has settled into my body. Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

Maybe it’s just my insatiable desire for fast food and sweet stuff.

No matter what the problem, I want to deal with it intelligently and strongly. I want to stand, victorious, at the top of Mount Everest and look back at what I’ve done. Mostly, I just want to feel normal, moderately active, figure “flaws” that can actually be camouflaged by clothing instead of exacerbated by it. I want to feel pretty in a dress and sexy with nothing on at all. And don’t give me that crap about society’s standards being unhealthy. I’m not 120 trying to lose 5 pounds with D-sized breasts and hollow cheeks. I’m 240 pounds with DD sized breasts and a stomach that passed them up. My libido (what libido) [let’s not even go there]. So, what’s going to work? What’s the magic pill that makes this all go away?

Did I mention that I homeschool? That my children are mired in my misery for every waking hour of their lives? Shouldn’t that motivate me? Shouldn’t the desire to stand victorious at the end be motivation enough? Why isn’t it enough? How do I fix this? I keep thinking about it and contemplating it and planning around it. But never doing it. Because doing it is hard. I’ve never done anything hard. Ever. The hardest thing I’ve ever done was finish delivering my (first) daughter naturally after 4 hours of pushing. The doctor was prepping the operating room for my c-section. I knew that was undesirable and somehow the determination and drive came over me. If I thought I had an extra 2 hours, I probably would have quit. As it was, I thought I could deliver her and I did. And though I’ve had three other (natural) deliveries since hers, I can’t really call them hard because I’ve only had to push less than 10 times for all three. Combined. It’s been a miracle, but not my miracle. Maybe it is just the feelings of being overwhelmed. I’m not good when I look at mountains from their base- in any area of my life, I just quit. If that’s the dishes, the laundry, the homeschooling, finances, or diet.

I wish I had a nice, fuzzy, upbeat ending, but I don’t. I’ve got nothing. And I feel helpless. And trapped.

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Failure to Thrive

Are you familiar with those useless, boring, obligatory doctor visits? I always hated them and felt that they were a complete waste of time. For the most part with the previous two children the visit was basically about getting vaccinations. Since I’m not especially thrilled with the vaccination process, but go along with it anyway, doctor visits take on somewhat of a negative view. I know that the idea is that if you see a doctor when you’re well, he might actually catch something BEFORE it becomes a big deal. I know that they aren’t there to evaluate my parenting style and choices and judge me. I know that it can be valuable, but in my experience, it’s been nothing but a waste of several hours waiting in a waiting room, then stripping your child bare to measure them, more waiting in a cold office (with your now undressed baby), and then a visit with a nurse, and a quick minute or two with the doctor, and the shots.

I have to say though, Andrew’s doctor has been completely pleasant. It’s still largely about waiting around, but I can easily blame that on our modern medical system rather than the doctor himself. Dr. Davidson is a soft-spoken man and, unlike other doctors I’ve seen, not prone to overly alarmist speeches. He makes a funny face when I’ve said something I think he disagrees with, but he calmly states his counterpoint or ignores it. I like that. He has reassured me a number of times that Andrew seems to be progressing fine developmentally, but starting around the six month mark, he began to express some concern about the lack of growth for both height and weight in Andrew. Still, he reassured me that he looked completely healthy. He brought us back in for a 7 month weight check and ran some standard lead tests seeing as we lived in an older home that had verifiable amounts of lead. Andrew made some progress for his weight check and the lead test came back normal.

Which is why I understood that he was really concerned when we discussed failure-to-thrive at Andrew’s 12 month check-up. Andrew still hasn’t gained weight. What used to be a healthy 50-75% baby has now dropped to 1%. He’s energetic and healthy, not prone to diarrhea or vomiting, has a good appetite, sleeps fine, walks, and screams to communicate a point. But he’s small and that is a concern. Really, seeing his growth chart really does it. So here it is:

Of course, like any parent, they begin to do research the minute they’re out of the doctor’s office. What I found is that failure to thrive (FTT) is really a symptom, not a disease. The causes are usually obvious: you’ve got a sick baby. In Andrew’s case that doesn’t apply which means that the odds are that his FTT is caused by… me. At least, that’s what the research seems to indicate to me. Sure, there are rare issues of growth hormone disorders and other endocrinological issues. There are many things that can still be causing it, but the research says that the odds are high that some “inorganic” reasons are to blame. As in, the parents are putting their child on a diet or some other form of abuse. Now I know that I’m not abusing my child nor withholding food from him. But that doesn’t stop me from thinking that the doctor might be thinking it.

The good news is this has helped me view my parenting and habits from the outside in. You know how when you are having company come over, you suddenly see all the things that aren’t clean in your house that you’ve been living with anyway? (Please tell me that it’s not just me!) I decided to begin to track Andrew’s habits- everything from sleeping and eating, pooping and playing. Though I was almost done weaning him, I (thankfully) was able to get my milk supply going again and have been feeding him (more or less) on demand. He nurses three to five times a day and again once or twice at night. I began to weigh and measure his food intake and how he behaves after a meal. Just like using a food journal for yourself helps you to identify food patterns and weaknesses, tracking Andrew’s diet has helped me see where I’ve become lazy (from having older children) and respond accordingly.

The other good that has come of this is that I’ve had to look very carefully at what I’ve been eating. For one thing, Andrew almost always refuses food if we aren’t eating the same thing with him. The other big deal for me is that I feel judged because of my weight. I’m embarrassed by it and this leads me to feel like other people are judging me using my own yardstick. I feel like, in this case, the doctor must assume that Andrew eats nothing but junk, since clearly his mother has over-indulged regularly. Out of my deep desire to lose this weight (AGAIN!), I’m going back to my couch-to-5K workouts and then from there into a half-marathon training program (with an adjustment period to build my weekly mileage in between) Ideally, I’ll get pregnant in there somewhere (yes, we’re praying for more children), but developing good work-out habits is good for every pregnant woman. In addition, I’m planning on juicing/juice fasting to include some nutrients that I know I’m not eating enough of. I would really like to have some crazy-fast weight loss just so that I can look better and feel better right away but I know that I only have enough discipline for the minutest of changes.

I’m still praying that the doctor’s up at Children’s Hospital in Denver will find out that there’s nothing wrong with my little one, but I’m still determined to be thankful in all things. After all, Andrew was created in the image of the Father and is perfect just as he is.

A New Strategy

Still mourning my pregnancy loss, but I am looking forward to the future too. As soon as my “miscarriage process” stops, I am adding some exercise. I wanted something easy that wouldn’t require I spend tons of money on either the workout, or the working out. So, I bought two different “Biggest Loser” workout DVDs. I don’t watch the show, but I know that in general, their products are great for beginners because they are geared for people who are trying to lose weight, but aren’t there yet. The other thing I like is that they aren’t cast with the most beautiful, fit people; instead, they are cast from the contestants on the show, which means a variety of shapes, sizes, and abilities. I like that. The first movie is called “Boot Camp” and it is a cardio-weight lifting routine (circuits) and the other is the Weight Loss Yoga. I chose the Biggest Loser title because I thought it would be less “spiritual” than some of the others. The thing is, I have tried a little bit of yoga from a rented movie and I loved it! It was a great, no-impact workout that I could do in my living room with only a yoga mat (which I already had from trying pilates). The other advantage to these titles is that they are $9.00 each at Wal-Mart (or you could pay $20.00 at Target) which makes them very affordable.

[A word about yoga. Yoga is simply a series of positions or stretches that you hold while focusing on your breathing. It can be an awesome workout, or a relaxation time. However, it doesn’t need to be spiritual, at least for me, it doesn’t. I know who I worship and it is not my “self” or “spirit” and it’s not “nature” or any of the other false deities out there. I am not going to chant different mantras because that is idol worship and I will worship no idols. I worship the one true God, creator of heaven and earth. He gifted me with an amazing body, capable of doing amazing things. Stretches and poses are two of the ways that I am attempting to strengthen my body. No, I have not studied the origins of yoga, but I am guessing that it comes from a form of worship, with the deep-breathing and chanting. If I am comfortable (or at least only slightly uneasy) about celebrating Halloween and even Christmas, I think I can manage my “Christian” version of yoga. Topic is up for debate, but not maliciously so.]

So, all in all, I had to find (or purchase) the two DVDs, which both have customizable routines and varying levels, a yoga mat, a water ball or medicine ball (which I don’t have yet), a set of smallish weights (I’ve had for a while), and exercise straps (also something I don’t have). At this point in my exercise routine, I think the exercises without the added tools are still going to be plenty effectual, but I am planning on trying to purchase a few of those items as they go on sale or I find myself with spare cash or a desperate need.

Outside of that, not changing my diet too terribly much. I want to be prepared to get pregnant, so I am trying to stick to the pregnancy diet, more or less. I think that it is well-rounded enough, I just want to watch my calories and workout daily. Or twice daily. My plan is to do one workout first thing in the morning (alternating until I find a favorite) and then every other day doing the other workout at naptime. We’ll see. The beginner workout are only about 35 minutes, start to finish but I don’t like getting all sweaty after I’ve showered, so I don’t know how well I will like doing another workout in the middle of the day.

I’ll keep you posted, and hopefully you can watch my slider there on the right move down as it counts away my extra pounds. Every pound I lose now is another pound I don’t need while pregnant!

No-Poo Challenge, Day 1

Over the past few months, I have been reading about this “no-poo” challenge, where the “poo” stands for shampoo. The idea is that there are so many BAD chemicals in shampoo that we should not “shampoo” our hair altogether. That doesn’t necessarily mean don’t wash, but don’t use regular shampoos. The whole idea is that today’s shampoos are designed to remove oil, but much like antibiotics, they don’t discriminate good from the bad and therefore strip our hairs of the natural oils that would normally be present. We then add the conditioner to attempt to replace the lost oils. Your hair is able to regulate its own oils though; its much like a supply and demand situation. The more you remove your oils, the more your hair tries to replace it. The goal, then, is to let your hair stabilize where it needs to. 

There are two ways to do this. First, you can wash with water. Yup, that’s right, your hands scrub and all you put on is water. Second, you use a baking soda paste (1 tbsp baking soda plus water to form paste) and rub that in to your scalp only. Let sit for a minute and then rinse with water. You then take 2 tbsp of apple cider vinegar and mix in a large cup with enough water to fill it and you rinse the ends of your hair. Let sit for a minute and then rinse out. There is actually a third, which is to just wash with conditioner (not shampoo). From the detail, you can assume that I am choosing the second option and I found details of it here.
So today was day one. I didn’t plan ahead, I just jumped in and I hope to go at least 30 days. What do I have to lose? There is a “transition period” where your hair has to adjust to the oils which can take up to a month or so, but I figure that I can very easily cover my head if it becomes nasty. My biggest worry is that I won’t be able to stand it. I HATE it when my hair gets dirty and won’t let anyone touch it. I anticipate suffering somewhat for the first few weeks, but hopefully it won’t be too bad. If I can’t take it, I might just try washing with conditioner that day and hoping that the smell of the conditioner makes it feel better…so today, I washed my hair per the instructions on the website and it feels very soft and it was slightly curlier than normal. I went ahead and blew-damp (not dry) my hair because I do that normally, but I also covered it, which I usually do. There were far fewer tangles than normal because I didn’t try to wash all my hair, just the roots. That was a welcome relief because I usually have very tangly hair. Stay tuned to see how long I go. Hopefully I will be able to get some pictures…pictures are really important here!

A Book List

I wanted to call your attention to the book list on the left as well as to give a (partial) review of two of the books on the list. Yesterday, while I was at Target picking up my nasty antibiotics I grabbed two books that I have been seeing for a while, but never bothered to look at. The first is The Omnivore’s Dilemma, by Michael Pollan, and is a really interesting look at what it takes to create our food and what is really in it. The idea is that when a species, like humans, are truly omnivores, it becomes an ordeal to figure out what to eat; the sheer number of choices are overwhelming. Today’s supermarket has just exponentially exacerbated the problem because most of what we see isn’t even real food! Add to that, we have the problem of the medicalization of eating (we call it nutrition) and you have to have a degree to know what is “good” to eat. It’s not really a “diet” book because he doesn’t particularly give you guidelines on what to eat, it is more about the impact our eating has on everything else. Very interesting reading. I am still reading it, but I have glanced through it and think that it will be a challenging read. (1/18-edited to add, this book takes an evolutionary approach which thoroughly impacts the authors conclusions and reasoning. In one case he is talking about corn’s evolution and how smart it was to throw itself on the mercy of humans…what a brave evolutionary jump…so on and so forth. I am still reading it, though it has been, at times, difficult to keep reading, for that reason alone.)

The second book is In Defense of Food by the same author and the main concept, as he states in the very opening (Pollan, pg. 1),
Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.
That, more or less, is the short answer to the supposedly incredibly complicated and confusing question of what we humans should eat in order to be maximally healthy.
This book is going to be really interesting and is essentially an extension of what he found in The Omnivore’s Dilemma. These books are both on my immediate reading list. His writing style is very entertaining and still informative…I am excited about reading these!

Ugh…Antibiotics…

So I have some serious dental work coming up next week. What I thought was a root canal is now an extraction and then I have another root canal on the opposite side. Then (after our move) I will be getting braces to pull my wisdom teeth forward to cover up the gap left by the extraction…what a mess!

Anyway, because my cheeks are tender, they thought I was getting an infection and anxious to keep my mouth as healthy as possible, they decided to blast everything inside me with a week’s worth of Clindamycin. Oh, joy. I have only taken one and I am starting to feel nauseous already…next time, I am taking it with crackers! In between doses I am eating yogurt. Any other suggestions on how to not destroy my body while still taking this poison?

Chili Recipe, with Photos!

Okay, so I have a chili recipe that I absolutely love and wanted to share. So, I took pictures of it as I was cooking and thought I’d share them. Here goes:

Recipe:
1 1/2 pounds ground beef or turkey
1 small onion (I add a green pepper and some celery)
3 cups water
12 oz. can tomato paste
12 oz. can tomato sauce (I also add a can of petite diced tomatoes)
2- 29 oz. (large) cans kidney beans (I add an extra small can of pinto beans)
4 tbsp. chili powder, this makes a nicely spiced dish. If you REALLY don’t like spice, decrease it slightly, but even my kids are okay with it. You can add more chili powder to it (which I like) but it is a lot easier to add spice if you want it and nearly impossible to get it out.
2 tsp. sugar, don’t leave it out!
1 tsp. oregano
2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. pepper

So that is the actual recipe, but as you will see in the pictures, I deviate quite a bit. That is actually one of my favorite parts about it- there are so many ways to change it up if you need/want to.

Step 1:
Chop (dice) onion. I also dice a green pepper and 3 celery stalks, but if you don’t have them on hand, no biggie. You might want to experiment with other veggie choices, but these are my normal stand-bys.
Step 2:
Add a tablespoon of coconut (or olive oil or butter) to a large skillet. If I am only using the onion and no other veggies, then I don’t take this extra step, I just toss the onions and ground beef in together; it’s faster and you get about the same results. It doesn’t work as well when you have this many vegetables though. Since I don’t always let it simmer all day, it is good to make sure your veggies are already tender.
Step 3:
Saute vegetables until tender.

Step 4:
Add the ground beef. This recipe is really good with fresh ground turkey and if you are a little short in the quantity, it doesn’t matter; it’s all a matter of personal preference. I have even used a 50-50 mix of turkey and beef before. You couldn’t really tell. I imagine that this would work equally well with any ground meat.
Step 5:
Add all the other ingredients to the crockpot, or if you don’t use one, a large soup/stock pan. Since I am using canned beans, this is really a quick meal, because you only need to cook it long enough to allow everything to warm up and mesh together (about 30 minutes) or you can let it simmer on low all day long. If you choose to use dry beans, it would probably be best to soak and completely cook them before using t his recipe since I hear tomato products inhibit the bean’s ability to rehydrate and cook properly. I like kidney beans, but I am sure this would work well with any other bean. Maybe a pinto/black bean combo would be good. I also normally make this a “bean-heavy” dish, meaning that I double up on the amount of beans I am supposed to have. It stretches this meal even further.
Step 6:
Add drained ground beef to the crockpot and stir to combine everything. You can see the plastic liner I have on my crockpot. I don’t always use them, but when they work, they work well. I am not sure how I feel about cooking my food in plastic though…this was my last one and I won’t be purchasing them again.

Step 7:
Cook as long as you want. I prepared this at night, after dinner and let it cook on low for a couple of hours. I am going to store it in the fridge tonight and let it reheat in the crock for several hours from lunch until dinner. I take the chance to cook whenever I get it. I easily could have done all this at lunch tomorrow for dinner that same night, but this chili really is better the second day. About 10 minutes before you serve it, mix in the can of tomatoes, I use petite diced.

Step 8:

Serve! We like to eat this with whole wheat saltine crackers. I dip them in, my husband crackes them up and mixes them in. (Which probably decreases the spice a little for him…ketchup is spicy for him…:) ) We also top it with some cheese. This would be a good baked potato filling too. Next time, I am going to try it with pintos and black beans and make a “frito pie” out of it…yummy! This recipe fills my large oval crockpot (I think it’s 5 quarts?) so we usually eat it once and then I save a small amount for leftovers and freeze the rest in individual servings. It is really easy to reheat and doesn’t lose any flavor!